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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

SENATOR BOND PROMOTES DIRTY-AIR PLAN, WANTS TAX MONEY SPENT IN SWEDEN

(Washington, DC. June 8, 2005) – The non-profit Clean Air Watch today assailed an effort by Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) to delay important new air pollution standards for small engines, including lawn mowers, leaf blowers and chain saws.

Earlier this week, Bond quietly inserted a dirty-air amendment into spending legislation for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bond’s amendment, first revealed by Greenwire, would prevent EPA from issuing standards until a new study examines alleged safety issues related to cleaner engines.

Bond directs that the study be conducted by a Swedish organization with connections to a D.C. lobbying firm that formerly represented the tobacco industry.

“Lawn mowers and other small engines are a major source of smog in our communities during summer months,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. “In fact, they may be a much larger source of pollution than is generally assumed.”

O’Donnell added that Bond’s plan “would subject tens of millions of Americans to the harmful effects of smog by preventing the EPA from doing its job. His amendment is a direct attack on people’s health.” O’Donnell noted that state and local air pollution authorities were mobilizing in an effort to block Bond’s bad-air amendment.

O’Donnell charged that Bond was “acting on behalf of a single special-interest polluter” – the Briggs & Stratton Corporation, which has factories in Missouri. Federal lobbyist registration records show that Briggs & Stratton has retained high-powered D.C. lobbyists to obtain a “Clean Air amendment relating to the emissions of small engines.”

Two years ago, at Briggs & Stratton’s request, Bond crafted an amendment that took away the rights of states to adopt tougher upcoming California standards for small engines. Bond insisted then that EPA set tougher new national standards.

“Now, Senator Bond is seeking to undermine those EPA standards,” charged O’Donnell. “And his plan would also block California from protecting its citizens from the health effects caused by dirty small engines.”

Bond’s amendment, which will be subject to review by the full House Appropriations Committee tomorrow (June 9), directs that EPA commission a study proposed by an obscure organization called the “International Consortium for Fire Safety, Health and the Environment.” (The D.C. contact for that organization is a lobbying firm, Sparber and Associates, which formerly represented the tobacco industry.) The “Consortium” proposed that the $650,000 study be led by the SP Swedish National Testing and Research Institute, owned by the Swedish government.

“It’s ironic that Senator Bond, who complains about potential impacts on American jobs, wants our tax money to be spent in Sweden,” O’Donnell said.

More information is available from Clean Air Watch at 202-558-3527 and the Clean Air Watch blog at http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/